Tag Archives: online ground work

Eyes wide open…. Doesn’t mean you are committed, or does it?

Recently I attended an Intro to Clicker Training clinic at my own facilty.  I opened the door to a different picture to expand my  knowledge of it for knowledge sake and for others to  learn and  make choices on their own.  We had a nice group of  ladies and horses/ mini’s in attendance.

I will speak from my perspective only .

First, I want to Thank Sharon Zecchinelli for  enlightening the group with great basics.

From my perspective as a teacher I try to remain open minded to ideas and concepts. When  the topic came up about clicker training on the FB group Vermont Horse Community ,  the conversation lead me to think I should take this opportunity to learn about it, at least for basic knowledge of the concept. The seed was planted and Sharon and I began to set the ball in motion.

Last weekend we had a nice day to gather and learn.

Like everything in building a foundation, timing is everything.

We were each  given a period of some one on one time with Sharon to teach the  target , click, treat  flow. Not as easy as it looks. Timing is everythng! LOL

As we progressed we were asked what we  were here to try and correct. When I was asked I had no asnwer. Turely I was  there to  experience it and learn what I could and IF it pertained to my ideals I would honor it and incorporate  it as it fit per horse/ situation.

I had my doubts as to its uses and certiain issues but, durring the  day I saw some behaviors change and fair enough, if the human stayed true to the concept , as with anything else results would come. Clearly this is a wonderful style of training. I appreciate its finest forms and applaud its advocates.

We all branched off and tested the technique on our own with tasks. I saw some application for liberty work. So off I went On-line first , then  tossed the line  over  Pop’s neck and  tested things at liberty. Pop is a tough nut to crack and it was getting a bit redundant for him. I knew I needed to step it up. Liberty over a barrel – single barrel!

Sure we have done this on-line and  tested/ played with it  at liberty but not in this way. Ill be danged, we got it! It was a great baby step approach to completing this task. My task , should I choose to  go there, will be  to gain distance and flow.

For viirtual visual clarity, I was in a leading position, with my fist as the “Target” . we approached and off he walked and hopped over. No, not the first time, we had a few times on-line with adjustments and corrections to position but in the end  there it was! Fair enough!

I can see  how it might  be of great use in Horse Agility work. Online too but liberty it could play an even bigger  part. In my opinion  a lot depends on  how you choose to reward/release and develop your horse, as well as how far along you are in you foundation development to begin with. Pop and I have quite a history so some of what we already have played  part.

Lots of variables but I truely enjoyed the experience.

What can I say:

This….

I am Committed to learning with eyes wide open, unless you do somethng to make me shut them! 

I am Committed to doing what I feel is right for each horse/human individually  no matter what the “Tide” says.

I am Committed to never pigeon hole myself or any horse I work with. Every one /thing learns differently. I feel as a leader /teacher it is my resposibitly to  know which arrow to pull out for which situation. In order to do that I must have many different arrows!

This clinic gave me good  taste of what  can work, a different arrow . No I cant say ill be a clicker devote, but appreciate what I saw first hand as another  tool to  higher learning.

Bottom line: Never stop learning

Re-naturalizing….

And so it begins, naturally!

Meet and greet

Recently on a FB question asked  about herd dynamics, I got to thinking about some of the answers given. While doing stalls a few days ago I got chatting to

Myself , a usual occurrence, I may add. The topic came up of this question and  I began to answer it  myself,  taking in all perspectives and came up with ,

“Hmm? Can you re-naturalize a horse?”  In turn I posted that question to the FB community and was asked to give my version of what Re-naturalize meant.

So here it goes as it pertains to mainly the Herd Dynamic thought.

Sable View , has been termed by many a sanctuary! Horses and riders come to me, Sable View , misunderstood,  missing puzzle pieces to the  ”Fun” part of being with horses and riding, and horses forgetting how to be a horse.  Honestly I can not tell you what it is but with out a doubt horses here change  regardless of weather they are assigned to work with me or not. There is a great energy here, calm , quiet, and safe.  I try as much as possible to keep  the horses here as natural as possible , integrate the herds, full turn out 24/7 unless bad bad weather.  All this makes a difference right off the bat. The quiet  nature of  what I do and how I do it  permiates and  as much as they can with hands off so to speak, they settle. Some horses by request of owners are mutually worked with. By this I mean owner/ horse  time is spent with me. This is more for the relationship and safety  parts of the puzzle, but still can relate to the herd dynamic as well. Acknowledging, and reading  body language with respect.

I have had horses come in very boldened to humans and so clueless to equine signals its mind boggling.  All I can do is refer back to the Movie “Buck” . No, my experiences were not as extreme, Thank God, but the basic  premise of human error , or lack of  herd socialization as a youngster  jumps to the fore front as reasons.

Why?? Money, production, the prize,  OR maybe a mare dies, or rejected the foal, lots of reason why humans step in but I beleive the error is we  raise them as our “Babies” and not as  a by nature a wild herd animal. Those instincts are still there . All of a sudden  the baby is big and has no manners. Bad news!

I hear all the time, ” I don’t want to hurt him/her”. Or “I don’t want him/ her to not like me”, OMG people, REALLY! Think, in a herd  if they don’t get it by the third signal they get a swift  double barrel , a snaking charge,  and or a chunk taken from them.

Think do we take lip from our kids? I will answer for me, NO! I can tell you , I’m a tough mom, and my kids and I still laugh and  kid around  together all the time. They still love me!  There is a respect that is understood. Boundaries! In herd or house gotta have them!

So, in horse body language and communication, how would the mare correct her foal?   You all can think  through this  and Im sure can see in  your imagination at least the answers , as there are many. And , for as many as there are there are degrees of severity too.

When I have a horse come in with an owner who is fearful, It’s usually the “Oh my Baby ” thing. Fixable once owner gains ground in confidence  as the alpha of  their herd of 2. When it stems to the herd, and not being able to  mingle and find a place without  endangering others , whether it be dominance or submission or shear confusion, (I have seen it to where it would be banishment in the wild, my alpha knows its not  quite right and  will not allow it in ,  entering horse just doesn’t get the idea to keep his place. and ask permission to enter closer, sound familiar!). I begin to think something is missing from its “Natural” development,  social skills.

Enter “Re – Naturalizing” as  I put it. To try to get a horse to be accepted into herd and be aware of  the natural cues after missing the memo is not an easy task. I  am very fortunate to have  for the most part two herds with inter-changable members. So if full integration is not a doable thing, a herd is still an option with less pressure . 2 herds , 2 different energies. With inter-chageable members  I can  slowly  allow my more dominant  members, mare or gelding, to meet and greet, supervised  of course. This is a slow process.

For sure over the fence happens first, and  one on  one time in a private paddock area. I learn a lot from the over the fence time  I carefully watch, as to  how far I can  take the next step and who I can make it with.

In the one on one time I personally am hands off  as  I see the behaviors are not  ”Bullying” but clear and consistent with “Natural selection of a pecking order”.

I will and do make my presence known in the intro process. I feel it is important to let my place in the order of things be very clear.  In the end , the buck stops with me. Among themselves ,  they have their own order, enter human, owner, me , whomever,  a shift should be made to give  acknowledgement and respect with a feeling of comfort and ease.

In a nut shell this is my interpretation of what i call Re-Naturalizing” a horse. It can be taken deeper  in many aspect , but for this post my point was to just give an overview. I look forward to  more posts on this topic. Its unfortunate  they are needed.

 

 

 

 

 

The intrinsic value of ground schooling over fences , and more!

I concider this a follow up and maybe a conclusion to my ‘The Building of Arnold” post.

This will be a timeline chat of  progress made, Goals achieved , and  new horizons  seen.

As religiously as I could I built up Popeyes hind end with online hill work, and ridden hills on trails and in my hill field. By the time I got to a great trail ride  mid/late August, as a pre ride for a hunter pace I was setting with a local riding club I had a horse. He was so spot on in his physical readiness it was awesome.

I guess I should note I had my Sarah in tow (ponied), for  a good ride.

As we were moving along both horses were very clearly enjoying the ride.  Pop was ready to go . Sarah was playing  at the end of her lead line. Talk about multi tasking!

We had many opportunities to canter along and guess what… we had a left lead as a matter of choice! This was my goal with this fittening was to develope the hind end enough to support a left lead.

Every time Pop chose to canter off he chose his left lead! How cool is that. This was a sure sign I was on the right track with all I had done leading up to and including the fittening program.

Fast forward to October.  I had begun to recover after Irene and find my way back to where we left off.  I was on a call with a horse group I belong to ” The Horseman’s Jingle”,  I mentioned  I was still feeling a bit lost in direction going into winter with my horses. A suggestion(reminder), was made that when out doors was not an option indoor play could include adding jumps, ground rails , Caveletti’s, to continue the building/ hind end strengthening  process. I was concerned about loosing what I had gained.

I took the thought and ran with it. I had fun with a variety of ground covers, rails to barrels. Trotting and cantering and landing in a forward flow. It should be noted I did not do this every day it was incorporated into a fittening program as one more thing to check off per week, including days off and/or massage days.

A few days ago I made a (re) discovery….You see in my youth I used to be around a lot of high quality jumping horses . I saw the schooling etc and saw some amazing horse and riders  perform. I knew the thinking behind the practice jumps . Not  just at the shows but  in the lesson arenas etc.

That my friends was a different life :) BUT I could draw on it even now.

Fast forward to current. I was doing ground rails etc which worked well but especially for Pop seemed to not require much of him. It wasn’t  stimulating enough to make him really use himself. I found them boring too! This  refreshed idea was exactly what we needed. So enter variety of ground poles, low caveletti’s, barrells etc. Diversity!

Then my discovery of spreads…. this is a key factor for what both my horses need.

I had my barrels set up and used rails on either side to stop them form rolling.  For what ever reason they had been moved away from the base, maybe 8″ or so and not in straight order.

I had pop doing traveling circles and intermingling what ever was in his way he needed to negotiate, (Think to his feet).

He approached the barrels and what I saw made me very excited.

** Not just lift but stretch. Hmmm! how interesting!

I proceeded with this excersize with sarah who really needed to work on front end stretch and reach. She is super athletic but tended to land in a heap. This is where I saw huge possibilities. I set the rails up at a distance from the base.

In the end of out first session we had lift and an amazing beginning process of  opening her shoulders and  reaching forward and down in her neck. I requested on the landing of both horses that they  flow forward and take a few stride of canter before rest. Think of what this does for back and top line folks….

The following time I took Pop down to explore this rediscovered way to develop whole body coordination, I again moved the rails out and developed the arch needed to achieve  stretch and reach.

Something seemed to be missing for Pop. Towards the end of our session Pop showed me the answer. He needed to be reminded he had a hind end that needed to complete the excersize.  He landed a couple times with a hind leg in stride between the barrells and the landing rail. Hmm? How interesting! We need to connect the dots!

Next time around I asked with more purpose and when he took off he had great lift, stretch and upon landing truly sucked up his core and brought his hind end under him to clear the landing rail and then flow fwd to a nice few canter stride. Awesome to see. Full connection from front to hind.

I highly recommend being able to SEE your horses, ponies, jump little fences, nothing huge needed. Combine spreads and the plastic jump blocks work really well flat out for a low ground cover to add a great looking stretch and reach.

They have so much to show if we just listen with our eyes! They will tell us if its too much too soon, not enough, helpful, scary. But we need to be willing to let them have a say. Maybe a little less MAKE them and a little more ASK them .

Not just jump or school because we want the end result…ribbons!!! how many horse do you know in any equine  area of performance who have been ruined  because of over use, and in many cases too young, too soon.

You should all know that the time I spent doing the jumping was all of about 20 mins of an 1.15 hrs  time. I spent most of my time playing looking for quality gait work, and softening rib cages, and of course working the Glutes online.  Circles, sideways, leg yields , shoulder in and haunches in. And never forget chill time!

Its fun , stimulating, sparks a playful side in both “H Factors”.

Hope this was helpful ….  took me some time to condence it and find out how to put it into words. Sometimes you just have to be there.

So in closing the post on “The building of Arnold/ Intrinsic value…, what do i have?

1) Left canter lead upon request online and ridden. though the ridden is not solidly developed it is there and Amen for that!

2) A new area in my conditioning regime especially through winter.

3)Another way to connect front end and hind .

4) spreads either on ground or in a jump= a different stretch.

5) happy, fit horses!

6) A great outlook for goals and progress through winter.